Perhaps you’re in the early stages of starting a business, or maybe you’ve been let down in the past by a substandard service.
Whatever your reason for seeking a new accountant, your choice is likely to have lasting effects on you and your business.
Selecting an accountant isn’t a decision to rush into, and it’s important to thoroughly research your options.
Here are a few questions you should prepare to ask.
Anyone can call themselves an accountant. It’s not a protected term in the way that professional titles like doctor, lawyer or architect are.
The easiest way to ensure your accountant is qualified to a high standard is to check that they are an active member of a recognised professional body.
Some examples include the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).
You can find out if an accountant is a registered member of these organisations by searching their membership lists, which can be found here for the ICAEW or here for the ACCA, or you can ask your accountant for confirmation they are a member.
The type of service offered by an accountant can vary, and some of it comes down to personal choice.
Do you want someone who handles your tax return but keeps you at arm’s length? Or do you want to work with an adviser who can talk you through the numbers and offer personalised advice?
For new business owners, or those running a business without the help of a full finance team, the latter option is usually the most helpful.
Communication is crucial, and the knock-on effects are significant if it breaks down.
If your accountant doesn’t let you know about an upcoming deadline or tax change, for example, you could miss it and incur a penalty.
Similarly, if you can’t talk to them about decisions like setting up your business structure or claiming tax reliefs, you could end up paying more tax than you really need to.
You might want to consider an accountant’s style of communication and how responsive they are to your queries.
Their location could come into it, too – a local firm could be the most convenient choice if you prefer to meet in person.
We know that most business owners have very little free time on their hands, so it’s important to use that time well.
It can be stressful – not to mention frustrating – if your accountant takes a long time to get back to you and causes delays as a result.
Make sure the firm you’re working with has a good reputation for punctuality, and that they operate efficiently enough to keep things moving along.
We work closely with our clients, offering a full range of business, personal, and outsourced accountancy services.
To find out more about how we can help your business, get in touch.